When you think of a garden, you probably envision lush flowers in vibrant colors, an apple tree with its sweet fruit, and even a small pond with goldfish darting through the water. While these are all great things to include in your outdoor space, there’s so much more to explore when it comes to adding sensory appeal. Your garden can be more than just a visual treat: It can also offer smells and tastes that will make your senses stand on end!
Take a nose dive with fragrant flowers
One of the most exciting things about a sensory garden is that it is constantly changing. What may have been blooming at one point in time has now gone dormant, and something new and different is taking its place. Flowers that bloom in the spring can be swapped out for those that blossom in fall. In between, you have certain types of flowers that bloom all summer!
This also means you’ll need to research what flowers are best suited for your climate (and season). For example, tulips are one of my favorite springtime blooms—but they’re not going to do well in my climate if planted during winter!
Fragrant flowers can make an incredible addition to any sensory garden. They’re easy to care for when planted correctly and will keep your senses engaged all year round with their pleasant aromas!
Plant bright colors to please your eyes
Color is both a powerful way to stimulate the senses and a subtle way to set up a mood or create a feeling. It can draw attention, create contrast, and create harmony. A garden full of bright colors will have an energy that’s hard to ignore.
Color is also powerful in influencing us emotionally—for example, red represents passion while blue represents tranquility. Use this knowledge when choosing what plants you’d like to include in your sensory garden: choose plants with vibrant colors that symbolize emotions you want guests to feel when they come over!
Include plants that appeal to the human sense of touch
In a sensory garden, you can use plants that appeal to the human sense of touch. It’s important to remember that not all plants are created equal regarding the different textures they provide.
For example, some plants are prickly and scratchy, while others are smooth and silky. If you’re looking for something soft and fuzzy, try adding some ferns or mosses, or even cacti! You could even have one section dedicated entirely to different textures, so kids know what kind of plant gives them what sensation when they run their fingers along it.
Attract wildlife for additional sights and sounds
Attracting wildlife to your garden is a great way to add a new dimension to sights and sounds. Wildlife friends will be happy not only with food sources but also with water, shelter, and the right plants.
Food: Plant native perennials such as Canadian wild ginger and red-osier dogwood for butterflies.
In late summer and early fall, provide fruits like elderberries or blackberries for birds.
If you have room for an irrigation system, create bee-friendly water gardens. Fill galvanized tubs with rocks, then line them with pea gravel or sand before adding water.
Water: For reptiles such as lizards or frogs that live on land during summer but hibernate in winter when there’s little rainfall, create shallow basins filled with rocks where rainwater can pool for drinking purposes. Or add small pools (no more than 6 inches deep) that are explicitly designed to retain moisture on hot days—and provide insects for easy hunting!
Consider how gardens will taste as well as their look, feel, smell and sound
Food is an important part of any garden. It’s important to consider how gardens taste and look, feel, smell, and sound. If you’re planting a vegetable garden or even just some herbs for cooking, be sure to consider what fruits or veggies will grow in your climate zone and how much space you have available.
Think about the colors that will look good when they’re ready to harvest—the red tomatoes against green leaves make an especially striking combination!
Your garden can be more than just a visual treat!
A sensory garden is more than just a visual treat. It can also be an oasis where you can relax, unwind, and enjoy the outdoors. You may even want to meditate in your sensory garden!
The scents of nature are one way we connect with our surroundings. The smell of pine needles or freshly cut grass is refreshing and invigorating. Other scents such as lilac, honeysuckle, or ginger lilies can take us back to simpler times when life was slower-paced. We all have different preferences regarding smells, but there is no denying that they can play a significant role in setting the mood for any space (or activity).
Creating a sensory garden is a fun way to get in touch with the natural world. It can also be a great learning experience for children and adults alike. If you’re interested in learning more about creating one of your own, we recommend checking out our other posts on how to create a stunning exterior for your home!